Song, 'tis my will that thou do seek Love.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1861
Rhyme: AbCAbCCDDX with refrain XYYX
Meter: iambic trimeter and pentameter
Genre: ballata
The Italian original is a ballata mezzana.


“Introduction to Part II” (in Early Italian Poets) 189-193

◦ Foster and Boyd, Dante's Lyric Poetry, I.42-45 (II. 67-71) .

◦ De Robertis, ed., Vita Nuova, 77-82 .

Scholarly Commentary


Dante's ballad is a highly elaborate rhetorical work, perhaps even an early technical exercise. Its placement in the Vita Nuova seems clearly to have been an ex post facto move of the same kind as we saw in the case of his autobiography's opening sonnet. (In all such cases Dante is also suggesting that Love's prevenient purposes have been at work in his poetry from the beginning.) DGR's translations always register this fundamental action in Dante's work, and in this case the translation's stiff archaisms seem especially apt.

The complex rhetoric, viewed in one light, can appear quite unpoetical, as various commentators remark when they discuss Dante's ballata as an early verse exercise. But read in the context of Love's secret ministry the style can also appear as nothing less than a prophetic forecast of the triumphant stil novo that will break into full measure later in the Vita Nuova, most spectacularly in “Ladies that have intelligence in love”.

DGR's source text was “Ballata, io vo'che tu ritruovi Amore” in the third volume of Fraticelli's edition of Dante's Opere Minori di Dante Alighieri.

Textual History: Composition

This is an early translation, in the 1840s, perhaps as early as 1846.

Printing History

The translation was first published in 1861 in The Early Italian Poets; it was reprinted in 1874 in Dante and his Circle.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 8d-1861.raw.xml